Seeking God through Fasting
Learning to seek the face of God is the foundation for experiencing the amazing life Jesus died to give us. We have available to us through Christ all the wonders, excellencies, and satisfaction we can fathom. God has granted us grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, affection upon affection, and love upon love. When we pursue him through all the avenues available to us, a door is opened in which we discover all our heavenly Father longs to give us. May you grow in your pursuit of God this week as we study various ways we’ve been given to seek his face.
Scripture:“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” Ezra 8:23
In his book, A Hunger for God, John Piper writes, “If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” Fasting is a powerful tool for placing anything that entangles us to the depravity and longings of this world in proper perspective. It builds for us a seat at the table of God where we can drink deeply of the wonders and satisfaction found in restored relationship with our heavenly Father. May the Lord reveal to you the places in your heart which need to be realigned as we look at all God longs to do in us through the gift of fasting.
Matthew 6:16-18 says, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Fasting is a secret declaration to yourself and your heavenly Father that you want more of what he has to give you. It’s a private plea for the abundant life that can only be found in more of God and less of the world. And God responds to our pleas with his glory and grace causing the cares of this world to pale in comparison to the abundance of God’s love.
There’s something powerful that takes place when we willingly surrender satisfaction in the world to make space for more of God. God loves to respond to our hunger. In his patience he waits for us to cry out to him to bring us into the fullness of what he has for us. But in his pursuit of us he constantly whispers from his Spirit to ours, beckoning us to give up the rags of this world for the riches that come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Whether you’re fasting food, entertainment, relationships, or anything else to make space for more of God, the intention of God for fasting is to fill you up to overflow. It’s his intention to realign your life to position you to consistently receive all he has for you. It's his intention to transform the pangs of separation from whatever you're fasting into deep prayers for more of his goodness. May you be honest with yourself and be filled with the desire to fast from that which stands in the way of you fully living the abundant life.
1. Meditate on God’s desire for fasting. Allow truth to form your perspective on this age-old discipline.
“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” Ezra 8:23
“If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” — John Piper, A Hunger For God
2. What do you need to fast? What’s holding you back from the fullness God longs to give you? What could you give up to create more space for relationship with him? Be honest with yourself and God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal places in your life that need the transformation that comes through fasting.
3. Commit to fasting whatever you feel would be beneficial for you. You don’t have to start with too much! This isn’t meant to be a religious exercise but rather an action performed out of a longing for more of God. Ask the Spirit to see you through this process. Ask him to strengthen you as you become weak.
Nineteenth-century author Andrew Murray once said, "Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." May you discover the wealth of goodness that accompanies letting go of the weight of this world through fasting. And may your resolve to experience all that God has for you increase, as the cares of the world slip away.
Extended Reading: Acts 13
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